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Monday, November 14, 2022

Guitar World Interview: Neil Young Discusses 'Mirror Ball' and Working with Pearl Jam (September 1995)

Neil Young 
Guitar World - September 1995 

Here is a clip from Guitar World Interview: Neil Young Discusses 'Mirror Ball' and Working with Pearl Jam  (September 1995) by Gary Graff.

“People my age,” sings Neil Young on his latest album, Mirror Ball (Reprise), “they don’t do the things I do.”

No Kidding.

At 49 – an age when so many veteran rockers put themselves on the summer tour greatest hits treadmill – Young is still rocking with a fury, opening new vistas in his amply celebrated 30-year, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame career.  Mirror Ball is Young’s collaboration with Pearl Jam, an inevitable move, really, considering the creative kinship evident between the two since Pearl Jam emerged from Seattle in 1991.

Pearl Jam’s staunch independence – TicketMaster battle and all – echoes Young’s. 

And the quintet’s thick, dynamic guitar attack owes more that a little to Young’s part-time band, Crazy Horse. Young, for his part, has willingly played the benevolent and supportive big brother/father figure for not only Pearl Jam, but also for any other modern rock denizens who acknowledge him as an influence. If Pete Townshend were writing this story, it would be titled “The Punks Meet the Godfather.”

“I was completely honored to be playing with him,” Mike McCready gushes about the four days Young and Pearl Jam spent recording Mirror Ball in Seattle, with Pearl Jam collaborator Brendan O’Brien producing and playing keyboards. “We’re enamored of him… and I’m honored he says he’s into us. I think he just likes where we’re coming from. He sees a lot of honesty in our music.”

Still, there’s a difference between being buds and rubbing elbows with your heroes and actually getting down to brass tacks in the studio. 

“Oh yeah,” McCready acknowledges. “We’d be jamming, and I’d look over and say to myself, ‘That’s Neil Young, and he’s playing leads. That’s the shit!’ I could only wish to be that good. 

“I think he’s a genius. 

There’s a complexity to his playing, a complexity of emotions. He’ll sustain a note forever and it’ll sound amazing, whereas I’m used to playing a bunch of different leads. He made me look at how I play, and I’d like to eventually play like him. He always hits the right note. 

I don’t think it’s a thinking process for him; he just does it.”

Full interview @ Guitar World Interview: Neil Young Discusses 'Mirror Ball' and Working with Pearl Jam  (September 1995) by Gary Graff.

On Sept 11, 2022, Pearl Jam performed an encore with a cover of Neil Young's "Rockin' in the Free World" plus the "Star Spangled Banner".

Pearl Jam - 9/11/22 
Madison Square Garden, New York City, NY
(see Pearl Jam encores Neil Young's "Rockin' in the Free World" on 9-11 in NYC)


"Throw Your Hatred Down" video - Neil Young w/ Pearl Jam
Directed by Jim Sheridan


In 2021, we highlighted the upcoming Neil Young w/ Pearl Jam Mirror Ball Live album recorded in 1995 at the indoor Simmonscourt Arena, Dublin, Ireland. 

Neil Young and Pearl Jam
Simmonscourt Arena, Dublin, Ireland
photo via David Fallon


Pearl Jam and Neil Young have been collaborating since at least 1992 when Pearl Jam and Neil played separately at the Bob Dylan tribute ("BobFest") at Madison Square Garden in New York City on October 16. It is believed that this is when Neil and Eddie Vedder first met and possibly Neil invited Pearl Jam to play at the Bridge School Benefit concert. on 11/1/92. 

A few weeks later Pearl Jam would play the Bridge School concert and mark the beginning of a long and productive relationship. Since their initial meeting, Pearl Jam's music has been heavily influenced by Neil Young as demonstrated by their numerous covers of Young songs. For example, Pearl Jam has covered "Rockin In The Free World" over 100 times, often as final encores, according to the Pearl Jam fan site Lukin.

pearl jam & neil young

A year later, Neil would join Pearl Jam onstage at the MTV Music Awards on 9/2/93 to play an incendiary Rockin in The Free World. Critics would call the onstage interplay the highlight of an otherwise lackluster affair. The attention gained from "BobFest" and playing with Pearl Jam would introduce Neil to a new generation of admirers.

It is likely that during this period that Young invited Eddie Vedder to induct him into the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame the following year.

eddie vedder & neil eddie & neil young

For Neil's induction speech, Eddie Vedder said (from Five Horizons):

    "He's taught us a lot as a band about dignity and commitment and playing in the moment and when I hear, you know, the speeches and inducting Janis Joplin and Frank Zappa, I get, uh, I'm just really glad he's still here. And I'm gonna (audience applauds; Eddie rolls his eyes, smiles and clutches his hand to his heart)... yeah!!

    And I think I'm gonna have to say that I don't know if there's been another artist that has been inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame to commemorate a career that is still as vital as he is today. Some of his best songs were on his last record."

Several weeks later, Neil would return the favor and perform at the Voters For Choice Benefit Concerts in Washington, DC.

Neil went on to rescue a PJ show in San Francisco at the Polo Field on June 24, 1995 when Eddie fell sick after 3 songs.

The only recording Neil and Pearl Jam did together was the Mirror Ball and Merkin Ball albums. (The recording sessions and tour are covered in detail below. To play and listen to a MP3 sample from Neil Young Mirror Ball and Pearl Jam's Merkin Ball.) 

Neil Young & Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder
Voters For Choice Benefit - January 14 & 15, 1995
w/ Pearl Jam & Neil Young w/ Crazy Horse 
Pearl Jam & Neil Young
Toronto - September 11, 2011
(See Neil Young Fans Have Spoken and They Want Pearl Jam?! Archives Survey Results Posted)
"Walk With Me"
Pearl Jam w/ Neil Young 


"Throw Your Hatred Down" 
Eddie Vedder & Neil Young
(Click photo to enlarge)


Also, see:

  • Collection of Mirror Ball and Merkin Ball Reviews - A Pearl Jam and Neil Young Collaboration
  • DISPATCHES FROM THE FIELD. Pearl Jam and Neil Young at Polo Field - June 24, 1995.
  • Voters For Choice Benefit - January 14 & 15, 1995
  • NEIL YOUNG/PEARL JAM Exhibition Stadium, Toronto, Ontario, August 18, 1993 - SPIN Mag
  • Bridge 2003 - 17th Annual Bridge School Benefit Concert, October 25th and 26th, 2003 - Shoreline Amphitheater, Mountain View, CA.
  • VIDEO: The Day Neil Young Saved a Pearl Jam Concert - San Francisco, 06.24.1995
  • Bridge Memory: "Walk With Me": Pearl Jam w/ Neil Young - 10/24/10
  • Pearl Jam, Rush, Journey Members Cover Neil Young at Rock Hall All-Star Jam
  • VIDEO: "Peace and Love" - Neil Young w/ Pearl Jam
  • VIDEO: Pearl Jam Covers Neil Young's "Throw Your Hatred Down" - Seattle, 8/8/2018
  • Jack White Joins Pearl Jam to Perform Neil Young's “Rockin’ in the Free World” at Portugal Fest
  • Neil Young Will Induct Pearl Jam into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
  • VIDEO: Pearl Jam's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction + "Rockin' in the Free World"
  • Super Jam Full Performance: 2017 Hall of Fame "Rockin' In The Free World" by Pearl Jam, Yes, Journey, Rush + More
  • Pearl Jam - Fuckin' Up - Hartford (October 25, 2013)
  • Pearl Jam + Red Hot Chili Peppers Cover Neil Young's "Rockin' In the Free World" in Rio
  • Nephew Eddie and Uncle Neil
  • Pearl Jam & Stephen Colbert Cover Neil Young's 'Rockin' In the Free World' | The Late Show
  • Eddie Vedder & Lukas Nelson + Promise Of The Real Cover Neil Young's "Throw Your Hatred Down": OHANA FESTIVAL (Sept 29, 2019)
  • Pearl Jam Covers "Fuckin' Up" in DC - 2006
  • Pearl Jam Working With Neil Young - Pearl Jam Twenty Film
  • Pearl Jam and Uncle Neil in Winnipeg - 2005
  • RARE VIDEO: Pearl Jam & Neil Young - "I'm The Ocean", San Francisco, CA 6/24/1995 

  • Uncle Neil & Nephew Eddie


    For more on Pearl Jam and Neil Young, see Eddie Vedder Influences page. 


    Eddie Vedder
    Columbia, MD - 9/18/98
    Photo by Thrasher

    Labels: , ,


    At 11/14/2022 03:12:00 PM, Blogger Art Carey said...

    you work so hard on these posts.

    At 11/14/2022 03:46:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

    Thanks for noticing Art!

    yes, we do try a little harder than Rolling stone, UNCUT, MOJO, etc.

    but we have to. because we care.

    to some, this seems like a lot of cut & paste rehash. To some extent true, but still needs the research, compilation, coding, proofing, publishing, etc.

    So it does mean a lot to us that folks notice and care as well.

    it offsets the grumbling we get about linking a post where the YouTube vid is dead.

    as if we have anything to do w/ videos that YT pulls. sheesh. give us break.

    oh, the labors of love.

    and we did really have an intense PJ & Neil phase for awhile during the Mirror Ball era. So well worth the look back at Uncle Neil & Nephew Eddie.

    At 11/14/2022 03:51:00 PM, Blogger Alan said...

    @ Thrasher : Thank You! For delivering on content for us Neil Young -ologists! You have so far delivered faithfully an impressive volume of high quality content, an array of fascinating topics!

    Thrasher’s Wheat is a meeting place for Neil fans. It is a terrific long term venue for current / past discussion among hard core fans & others about topics of appreciation for the Artist we love, drawn in as if by some magnetic force, Neil Young! What a topic!

    Thank you Thrasher and Thrashette for holding fast to the cause of our affections!

    I just got Bowie’s Heathen album partly for his cover of “I’ve Been Waiting For You” as was recently discussed by you in TW, of course. And I was lucky enough to see Bowie play at the Bridge show in ‘96! But I only had a best of and one other album.

    Neil has worked hard at his craft. He has relentless great care to shepherd his Art for us to enjoy. A truly important music Artist who has unlocked and released vast treasures for us! It’s a Damon good time to be a Neil Young fan! Even in the pandemic aftermath. Uncle Neil has tapped the Reserves for us. Such amazing things have happened, like TFA re-release & Rust Bucket! Just to name a few!

    My theme here has veered into Neil as Father Christmas, with bags filled with sonic (and visual) priceless nuggets of audio gold!
    Some releases are so priceless, I don’t even buy them, being a NYA member & all the great stuff that provides!

    And we continue to cheer Neil on in these days after his Birthday.

    Peace out. Your Bro Alan in Seattle

    At 11/14/2022 04:00:00 PM, Blogger Alan said...

    “It’s a DAMN good time to be a Neil Young fan!”

    At 11/14/2022 04:16:00 PM, Blogger Richie Cruz said...

    I still go back and listen to Mirror Ball quite a bit more than I would have thought back when it was released. Pearl Jam did him proud, though I still sometimes wonder what could have happened had Nirvana been selected as one of the opening acts of the Weld tour. If Neil and Kurt could have connected on that tour, who knows where that could have gone. Oh well.

    Mirror Ball is still a great listen, though. "Big Green Country" and "Truth Be Known" are both great underrated Neil tunes.

    At 11/14/2022 04:23:00 PM, Blogger Alan said...

    And, I love the Mirrorball album!

    I freak out on I’m the Ocean, for good reason!

    What a powerful song! And the I Got Id single with Neil blazing on it is one of his best solos ever(?!).

    Your brother Alan in Seattle

    At 11/14/2022 11:40:00 PM, Blogger David Rart said...

    Four days in the studio for a classic might even be a record for Neil.

    Still, waiting for the live footage/album, anywhere I can vote again?!

    Great post, thanks

    At 11/15/2022 09:54:00 AM, Blogger thrasher said...

    @ YBiS - as always, appreciate the enthusiasm here on TW.

    Keep that spirit flyin'


    @ Richie - the Nirvana riddle is timeless.

    Not to be whatever, but we got Sleeps w/ Angels out of it. not sayin that's good/bad.

    that's just how it turned out.

    at same time, knowing what we know now, it just feels that Eddie & neil are more simpatico than Neil & Kurt could've ever been.

    but who knows?

    Nirvana ... Neil's 90's Crazy Horse?!

    @ David - still waiting here too.

    thanks for kind words.


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